Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Take-Home Cars Cost $220K
Updated On: Oct 17 2011 10:20:20 AM EDT
Local 10 has learned a captain assigned to the Training Bureau drives a full-size, four-wheel-drive Miami-Dade Fire Rescue pickup truck to northwestern Palm Beach County, where he lives, after every shift.
According to Google Maps, it's 85 miles one way from the Training Facility at Doral headquarters to his house. That's 170 miles round trip and 680 miles to and from the office for his four-day work week.
It costs Miami-Dade taxpayers $200 a week in gas for that one employee to drive the truck between work and home.
Local 10 has learned four training captains all take their Miami-Dade Fire Rescue vehicles home. Sources said training captains never respond to fires, car crashes or emergencies after hours.
The department allows 64 employee to take their vehicles home. A special events coordinator for the department drives a car home to Pembroke Pines. A special assistant to the executive staff drives a vehicle home to Davie. The chief of logistics drives to Boca Raton.
Those behind the wheel can't be blamed; they are given the keys by the department, and the fire chief has the final say on who is allowed the perk.
At a time when the department is looking to slash its budget and is considering layoffs, Local 10 requested an on-camera interview with Chief William Bryson. At this point that interview has not been granted, and Bryson walked away from Local 10's Jeff Weinsier when approached at a recent Miami-Dade County Commission meeting.
According to a memo from the chief to Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the department justifies the vehicles going home, saying they are "equipped for rescue and fire response."
But is the captain who lives two counties away really responding to emergencies and life-and-death situations 85 miles from Miami-Dade?
Miami-Dade taxpayers pay $220,586 in take-home costs for the 64 vehicles to go home. Twenty-six Fire Rescue employees actually live out of the county, a total take-home cost of $101,044.
"A lot of this is a legacy thing. People have gotten cars as part of a compensation package or to make the job more attractive. It's something that happens and it's just got out of hand," said Gimemez.
Twenty-eight inspectors and investigators in the department drive cars home every day because their contract says they are entitled to a vehicle.
"Times have changed. The policy needs to be revised," said Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz.
"I strongly believe cars should stay in Miami-Dade County," said County Commissioner Rebecca Sosa.
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